Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Positive Observations," My Ass

From a recent NDPR entry which reads like a full-on trashing of the book under review:
Despite the many critical remarks I have made, I would like to conclude with some positive observations. May has written a book that can be very useful in bringing Aristotle's ethics to the attention of psychologists or other academics. [...] Although the book could profit from a more rigorous treatment of Aristotle's philosophy, May deserves a lot of credit for attempting to defend Aristotle as a good psychologist who can still offer us much insight and advice.
I see... it's a "positive observation" that a book written by a philosopher about Aristotle is not of use to philosophers, but could be of use to those in another disciplines insofar as it brings Aristotle-- and not the author's views about Aristotle!-- to their attention. And, further, the book's author deserves credit for her attempt (apparently failed!) to defend Aristotle as a "good psychologist."

Why even bother prefacing these comments with the claim that they're meant to be "positive observations"? This isn't damning with faint praise. It's damning with further condemnation thinly disguised as praise.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn foreigners.

Chino said...

no one wants to hear a flowery review full of enchanting prose of positive compliments... negative reviews excite people more. just as in restaurants, where a bad reviews is ten times more detrimental to the reputation of the establishment as a positive review is beneficial in the same sense.

i'm just glad leiter's stupid synthese "scandal of the century" bull$hit is coming to an end

Anonymous said...

"Damn foreigners"??? ugh.

anyway, clearly this is a horrible book and the author of the review was just trying to say something nice about it. i don't understand why you have to get so petulant about someone calling a bad book bad. i read parts of the the book. and it IS really bad. i'm not a professional philosopher and even i see the cracks (well, gaping ravines, actually) in May's logic.

Bryan said...

I haven't read the book under review, so I don't know whether the review fair and accurate overall. However, I too am perplexed when reviewers end (or begin) a review with positive comments that are belied by the substance of the review.